Adventure Play: Courage, Excitement, uncertainty and resilience

Adventure Playgrounds – What are they like?

Adventure Playgrounds are amazing creative places where children can play freely. Children are amazing creative people who need to play. IPA believes that it is essential for children to have outdoor spaces to call their own so that children can make choices about what they do. One of our definitions for play is that it’s

‘what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas, in their own way, for their own reasons’.

Adventure Playgrounds can also be tough, rough and tumble places where children play out their joys and their troubles; they need to do this to make sense of the world. Through play they learn to thrive despite the difficulties life throws at them. This sometimes means that they argue, fight and say rude and hurtful things. Although this behaviour can seem unpleasant it is an essential part of growing up and developing emotional regulation. Sometimes children have to learn by doing things that they later regret. This also means that sometimes children have to miss a session at a playground. However, we do not permanently ban children. Children should be given many chances to make new choices about the way they act and react.

Children also take risks whilst they play. The risks they take are both physical (heights, balance etc.) and social (friendships, language etc.). It can be difficult for families to think about their children taking risks as they want to protect them, but children need these risks for their physical, social and emotional development.

The Playworkers at Adventure Playgrounds are trained professionals who are there to support children create their play spaces. They intervene when children need them. There are usually three Playworkers on site and there can be up to 60 children. The Playworkers cannot see everything, but they stay alert and have a deep understanding of children’s play and their play spaces. IPA Playworkers will not accept racist, homophobic or other discriminatory language.

Sometimes children cannot manage the whole session on site, they need to play out for a while and then to go somewhere with less people and less noise. Sometimes children need to get away and reset as the play space has become stressful for them. There should always be a possibility for your child to leave the playground if that is what’s needed.

IPA wants all Islington children to enjoy self-directed play. We believe it is essential for their happiness in the present and for their development for the future.